Former NFL punter says he was fired over gay rights advocacy

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Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe claims he lost his job and hasn’t been able to find a new one because of his outspoken support for gay marriage.

Kluwe, writing for the sporting news site Deadspin, said he believes he was cut by the Vikings after eight years on the job because of his same-sex marriage advocacy.

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He also says he believes it’s a major reason he hasn’t found a new job despite punting statistics that are near the league’s average.

“It’s my belief, based on everything that happened over the course of 2012, that I was fired by [special teams coach] Mike Priefer, a bigot who didn’t agree with the cause I was working for, and two cowards, [head coach] Leslie Frazier and [general manager] Rick Spielman, both of whom knew I was a good punter,” he wrote.

In 2012, Kluwe appeared in several ads for the group Minnesotans for Marriage Equality, which was opposing a ballot initiative that year aiming to amend Minnesota’s constitution to abolish same-sex marriage (the amendment failed, and Minnesota legalized same-sex marriage in 2013).

In September of the same year, Kluwe also drew attention when he published a profanity-laced open letter to Maryland legislator Emmett C. Burns Jr. after the latter wrote a letter asking that the Baltimore Ravens prevent linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo from making additional pro-gay marriage comments. The letter quickly went viral, and Kluwe claims that shortly afterward Vikings front-office personnel began asking that he quiet down, a request he refused.

Kluwe adds that he was later told to “fly under the radar” after making anti-Catholic tweets when Pope Benedict XVI resigned in February 2013.

Kluwe says that his beliefs have led to him being blackballed from the league, as he has been unable to sign with any other team despite putting up numbers he argues are around the league average for a punter.

“It’s clear to me that no matter how much I want to prove I can play, I will no longer punt in the NFL, especially now that I’ve written this account,” Kluwe said. “In advocating noisily for social change I only made it easier for [teams] to justify not having me around. So it goes.”

Kluwe also accuses Priefer of repeatedly using homophobic language, including once saying, “We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows."

Kluwe has continued to be vocal since leaving the Vikings. In June, he published a book, Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies, which includes extensive tracts on politics, such as an attack on Ayn Rand’s Objectivist work Atlas Shrugged.